There must be a zillion types of masking tape on the market, and all of us will probably have our favourite - or, at least, our "go to" product for most modelling jobs. For me, it's been kabuki tape ever since I discovered it far too many years ago. It has those all important characteristics of adhering well, while leaving no residue and offering quite a bit of flexibility to cope with curves.
"Quite a bit of flexibility" is the crucial caveat - it doesn't offer massive amounts. Kabuki tape tends to buckle if you try to follow too tight a curve.
Tamiya released an impressive alternative a few years ago. Their vinyl tape really does allow you to mask around some very tight curves and across compound surfaces without difficulty. It's only downside is that it's comparatively expensive (certainly compared with generic Japanese kabuki tape).
So, I was very interested when I stumbled across Shesto's Flexible Masking Tape by chance when browsing pages on the Model Hobbies site. It's a very similar product to Tamiya's, but is available in a wider range of widths and comes in twin-packs - which does work out as cost saving where you can draw direct comparisons. Importantly, though, the extra widths means it can be seen as complementing Tamiya's range usefully if you've already got some rolls of the latter.
The rolls arrive in a resealable bag (Shesto recommend keeping the tape in the bag to protect it) and I have to say the one down-side of the twin-pack is that the rolls which I bought were stuck together surprisingly firmly. Once I'd prised them apart, it was hard to figure out how they'd welded together, but I'll put a sheet of film between them if you're storing them (or find extra resealable bags).
In use, I was very impressed just how tight a curve even the 6mm tape could follow without showing signs of buckling up. I think it could actually go tighter still, but then you'd have to smooth out the inevitable buckling. It didn't leave any residue, so it ticks the box there too.
I really like the fact that Shesto offer a 1mm wide tape, which is ideal for pin-striping, while the 1cm wide tape gives scope for cutting patterns before laying the mask on a model.
Like Tamiya's version, it's thicker than kabuki tape, which you could actually use to your advantage; it wouldn't be hard to double-up layers to produce soft-edged spray patterns - so, it also offers an alternative to using Blu-Tak, plus it has the advantage for some applications of producing smoother lines.
Shesto's Flexible Masking Tape is available in the following sizes:
1mm wide - £4.96 for 2x 18 metre rolls
2mm wide - £5.95 for 2x 18 metre rolls
3mm wide - £6.95 for 2x 18 metre rolls
6mm wide - £7.96 for 2x 18 metre rolls
1 cm wide - £8.95 for 2x 18 metre rolls
On the basis of my first tests, I'm very impressed and Shesto's tape could well become one of my "go to" products for a wide range of masking tasks.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AUTO MODELER
Highs: It's certainly flexible and there's no sign of residue - and twin-pack offer very useful cost savings. Lows: The rolls were stuck together in the packs I bought. Not a deal breaker, but a layer of film between them would be a nice touch.Verdict: Shesto's Flexible Masking Tape is very promising and I look forward to trying it on a build.
About Rowan Baylis (Merlin) FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM
I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...